On Phil Jackson, Luck, and Humility

The March evening last year when Phil Jackson took over as team president, Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, and J.R. Smith made up 60 percent of the Knicks’ starting lineup.

The team’s three players younger than 28 who regularly suited up for games — Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Cole Aldrich — combined for 1-14 from the field in a surprising win over the Pacers.

And at that moment, the Knicks had zero picks in the upcoming NBA Draft — their first rounder a casualty of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster, their second rounder one of two sent to the Rockets to trade for Marcus Camby.

Somewhere during the past 21 months — as the Knicks traded away Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith took 22 threes in one game and everyone tried to learn the Triangle and “how’s it goink?” set fire to Twitter and Carmelo Anthony agreed to take less money until he didn’t and the team won their last two games after tanking all season and Bargnani did Bargnani things and Amar’e took red wine baths and Frank Kaminsky and Trey Lyles awaited their names to be called as the 4th pick in last year’s draft — a funny thing happened: Phil Jackson and the Knicks developed a plan.

Like many plans, it was born out of necessity and almost stumbled upon, drunkenly and by accident. It is a plan that has involved occasionally questionable free agency signings and trades and a coach whose rotation remains a mess and a number of strokes of pure luck.

But it also may be the likeliest plan to succeed in my lifetime of watching this franchise, based on an almost unthinkable premise for a team owned by James Dolan: have some humility, and treat the Knicks like a normal basketball team.

Humble basketball teams try to improve at the margins in lost seasons by making small moves with contenders: trading 37-year-old Pablo Prigioni for two second-round picks, talking the Hawks into Tim Hardaway as a rotation player in exchange for a four-year rookie contract for Jerian Grant, a mid-first round pick.

They take low-risk chances on young talent and undrafted rookies, who every now and then turn out to be players like 24-year-old Langston Galloway, a Second-Team all-rookie player last year who’s now averaging 12/5/3/2 per 36 and developing real chemistry with Grant in the backcourt.

They focus on player development, recognizing there was a strong two-way player lurking in Oklahoma City castaway Lance Thomas, a 27-year-old making less than $2 million this year and who might currently be the team’s third-best player.

They recognize that money doesn’t need to be spent in one summer, or on one player like Greg Monroe, a special talent but whose rim-protection struggles likely would have made for some significant spacing and defensive issues.

They care about less flashy rotation players and find value in less trafficked areas of the market — 3 years, $12 million for 25-year-old Kyle O’Quinn (19.8 PER), $8 million for the most efficient post-up guard in basketball (Arron Afflalo, still just 30 years old), $55 million for the mildly disappointing Robin Lopez, who still retains significant trade value.

Yes, normal basketball teams also make mistakes — not focusing on developing Cleanthony Early in a rebuilding season, giving Derrick Williams a second-year player option, inexplicably continuing to play Sasha Vujacic, not pursuing a deadline trade for Melo more seriously in his contract year last year.

Look, in the last 21 months, the Knicks have gotten lucky. They committed to tanking only after injuries to Melo and an unpopular move to trade Chandler, which I thought was a prudent sell-low(ish) move at the time but admittedly brought in a somewhat meager return. They waived both Galloway and Thomas before re-signing them and giving them chances to contribute. And, of course, they only drafted Kristaps Porzingis this year because their preferred choices of D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor were off the board (a reminder of the serendipity that was the Knicks getting bounced to the 4th pick despite having the second-worst record in the NBA.)

But you can only get lucky if you put yourself in a position to get lucky. That means taking advantage of the luxury of being a losing team and focusing on the long-term. It means trying out young players that don’t work (Ricky Ledo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Travis Wear) to find ones that do (Galloway, Thomas). And, of course, it means taking a calculated risk on the skinny 20-year-old Latvian kid with the big upside because you recognize that you aren’t one piece away (“this guy can come in and contribute NOW!”) from being a championship contender.

As Tommy Beer noted on Twitter earlier this month, this time last year, the Knicks’ best young player was either Shane Larkin or Tim Hardaway. Now, they have five promising players under 25: Porzingis, O’Quinn, Grant, Galloway, and Early, the latter three of whom are making less than $2 million each this year.

Questions remain, most notably what to do with three-and-a-half more years and about $91 million of Melo, and whether the team has long-term rotation players or starters in Galloway and Grant.

But somehow, improbably, this is the most promising long-term position the team has been in since trading Patrick Ewing. And Phil Jackson — who won 11 titles with Jordan and Kobe and Shaq and Pippen — got them there the way normal teams do: with the splashes of luck that can come from exercising some humility.

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Jonathan Topaz

Jonathan Topaz is a reporter for POLITICO. He can be reached at jonathan.topaz@gmail.com or on Twitter @JonathanTopaz.

71 thoughts to “On Phil Jackson, Luck, and Humility”

  1. Nice piece Jonathan! I think when the deadline comes they need to stay humble and trade Melo for some useful long term pieces and cap relief and give Treetops his head. And then we might really be getting somewhere….

  2. Nice article.

    It seems clear to me that if you follow this logic the next move for a “normal” team would be looking to trade Melo. As we make our way through a brutal schedule stretch over the next few weeks it seems very likely that our faint playoff hopes will dwindle to zero. With a few more solid moves in the offseason it’s not hard to imagine next year’s team as a playoff team if they hang on to Melo, but a serious contender to win a couple rounds? Not unless you think we can snag a big fish in free agency, and expecting Durant or Conley or someone of that ilk to join a middling team isn’t the bet that normal, humble teams put all their chips on.

    Basically I think Melo’s future is the next major sign we’re looking for in terms of figuring out how much the Knicks really have changed, and how much has been just a couple fortuitous moves that we’re molding to fit a pattern and a narrative that makes us happy.

  3. In this case, though, the decision isn’t entirely up to Phil. Melo has that no-trade clause, he likes New York for both his business interests and Lala’s career, and I think he doesn’t want to deal with the heat he would take if he gets traded away from “his” team, even if I doubt any Knicks fan would be mad about it. The Lala factor means that the Lakers could be an even more desirable destination, but would he want to go to a team that’s even further back in its rebuilding process than the Knicks? Can’t see that.

    So if he doesn’t want to go, you either hope for a pie-in-the-sky situation, like Durant deciding that the best thing for his career is to play in a frontline with Melo and Porzingis, or you try other things that a normal, humble team would do, like trading Lopez to a team that runs more pick-and-roll (essentially: the rest of the NBA), getting back some guard/wing help, doing some more bargain shopping in free agency, and hoping that KP and Grant’s games evolve, that Hernanogomez is ready to contribute at least a bit next year, etc. Slowly but surely.

  4. Nice Piece Jonathan.
    Very well put but I didn’t understand

    Questions remain, most notably what to do with three-and-a-half more years and about $91 million of Melo

    I don’t know what it will take for you guys to understand Melo is not leaving. I think that was the whole point of the NTC. He wants to stay here and I think Dolan wanted him to as well. So I think you guys need to look at Melo as a sunk cost. He’s not an asset or a piece. He is a Knick for the next few years. They need to focus on the parts around him especially the backcourt.

  5. Wait. The Knicks waived Galloway last year? I remember them waiving Amundson and Thomas right after trading for them, but then quickly signing them back. I don’t recall them waiving him during the season.

    I don’t see the Knicks as “lucky” with KP. The general consensus is that the Knicks were very unlucky to have the 4th pick in the draft. Phil did not “reach” for a “safer” pick at 4. He went for long-term potential with KP6. Maybe the luck is that he’s played better than expected so far.

    I agree that we need to move on from a Melo trade. He’s got the NTC. Unless he suddenly sours and asks to be traded (which seems highly unlikely).

    Unlike some here, I still do not see the Knicks as a serious playoff contender this year. I’d be happy to be wrong about that, but I believe that this is the 2nd year of a 3-5 year rebuild, and I’m okay with that.

    I’d guess that Phil might be shopping Calderon, Lopez, Thomas, and Williams as the trading deadline nears. Calderon is just a stopgap, though his friendship with KP needs to be considered. He strikes me as a guy who could be a good 3rd guard for some teams, if he shoots well. Lopez seems more and more like a square peg in a round hole, but his presence is, I think, good for KP until he bulks up. If Thomas keeps up his play, he’s gonna have some value and will want to get paid in the offseason, probably more than the Knicks might be willing to give. Williams is still a bit of an enigma, but some team might want his energy.

    I do worry about those calling for KP to start manning the 5 spot. Maybe in 2 years? He’s still too thin to tangle regularly with centers on the low post. Okafor had his way with him the other night. Lopez is better for that job now, despite V going off on him last night. Against certain teams/lineups, yes, but let the guy man the stretch 4 the majority of the time and provide all his nice help defense

  6. This is how the situation should be viewed: zingis at the 5 and melo at the 4, we are solidified and if melo continues playing the way he has and we are elite at those positions going forward. Granted this implies Fisher realizes knicks are best with them in these spots.

    There’s a respectable cohort of free agent SF’s that are gonna be available after Durant, Lebron. You have Batum, Parsons (player option), Barnes (restricted), Evan Turner, Jeff Green and then you got your vets who may/may not be washed but could be solid additions Joe J, Luol Deng.

    PG is gonna be tough though…After Conley, there really isn’t much out there. Phil needs to either lock down Conley, unearth a starting quality pg from oversea’s or d league, fleece some other team or Grant evolves..I suggested the other day that Tony Wroten could be very underrated. He is in the last year of his rookie contract, he is 6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan and possess’s elite athleticism. Perhaps he’s just another athletic, inconsistent, turnover prone, low iq chucker or maybe he’s a guy on the sixers that is playing with inferior talent and is stretched thin, more research would need to be done. He’s got a 35% USG rate going and is coming off injury but his career per 36 numbers: 19 pts/5 asts/4 rebs/1.6 stls. TS% 49 and looks like a net negative with some of the other metrics leave something to be desired. But finding underrated guys and getting them on value deals is how you earn your money as a GM

  7. I don’t think conditions are favorable for trades by the Knicks in the near future. Trades this time of year and into January are often because one of the teams involved decided to give up current talent because the season was lost or because they feel one extra piece can put them over the hump into the playoffs. There aren’t many teams that have given up on the season already and there probably aren’t many teams that think they need some new given how tightly teams are bunched around the eight seed in each conference. The Nets could possible throw in the towel and trade Lopez for young players and draft picks, but the Knicks wouldn’t be interested in Lopez. The Lakers are already rebuilding so I don’t think they would have anyone young and with potential available to us. I can’t think of anyone else who might be giving up on the season already except New Orleans and they have trouble at guard, which is the Knicks biggest need.

    I doubt Phil thinks just one more player will put the Knicks over the hump, so he is unlikely to sacrifice picks or young players in a trade. Instead he probably will be opportunistic. This is why the Jennings runor made sense. But Detroit probably wants to find out what Jennings can do back from injury before they think about a trade.

    Obviously teams do trades for other reasons too, for example to avoid luxury tax or to get value for someone whose contract is going to expire and they don’t want to pay the expected price of the next contract. But these sorts of trades tend to happen close to the trade deadline, which I think is in February. That’s when I expect something might happen. But I wouldn’t count on it, I think Phil has a longer perspective and might wait until the off season to make more moves.

  8. They recognize that money doesn’t need to be spent in one summer

    We do? Because we spent every last dollar available this past Summer. On a middling at best return.

  9. Another guy I would not mind knicks targeting would be Dennis Shroder as there are rumors he is disgruntled about not starting. He is 22 years old and locked up for next year at 2.7m and seems somewhat in the mold of Rondo with a better shot. Absolutely no clue how we even realistically approach ATL without offering draft picks unless Shroder specifically tells them he wants to be traded here…

  10. Porzingis isn’t looking so good lately. Maybe the league has figured him out? His rebounding is down (but his block #’s are still phenomenal) and it seems that he isn’t being targeted in the offense as much as he used to.

    Or maybe he’s just tired.

  11. Afflalo’s re-emergence means there have been fewer offensive touches for Porzingis. Which I’m fine with at this point, given how young KP is and how well AA has been playing of late.

  12. His shot is off. I’d guess it’s fatigue. Or weightlifting.

    We have an open roster slot plus Sasha. If/when we give up on this season I’d like to see us trade Calderon and Lopez plus release Sasha or make him a coach. Bring up Jimmer plus sign PG Erick Green and Elliot Williams from the dleague, hoping to build for the future. If we could convince Melo that Miami is nice in the winter I’d move him too!

  13. Seems like KP is pretty exhausted, which likely explains the recent down play. That’s just my speculation, but he’s played tons of minutes already this year.

    As for Melo, I think there’s maybe a 10 percent chance that, at some point in the next 3.5 years, he waives the NTC for a mutually beneficial trade. But more likely, the Knicks have to decide what exactly they plan to do with him for the foreseeable future, and whether they plan to build around his playing style or ignore it.

    The bigger question for me, at least, is what exactly do the Knicks have in Galloway or Grant? Future starters, rotation players, or neither? I’m personally bullish on their long-term chances as two-way players, but I would understand skepticism

  14. Yes. A nice piece.

    In my mind, I don’t see too many errors having been made. I’m convinced that Melo has 3-4 more good years left and that the team has a future with young players. Grant still has a stiff learning curve, as most point guards do. But I think he can be a diamond in the rough. He’s certainly contributing more than THjr is for Atlanta. We don’t control Galloway but Lance and OaQ and D-Will are youngins we can continue to groom. We have hope.

    I’m going to put my foot down about Anthony. The Knicks need him. He’s playing as good as he ever has. He is not washed up and he’s a top-20 talent. Without him, the Knicks are battling with the 76’ers for last place. Melo, KP, AA and Rolo are a solid 4. Melo and KP are all-star capable. If we can get that all-star point guard, we’re on our way. Is it Grant? Is it Conley? Someone else? We’ll see. There are free agents available next year. There are trades to be had. What I know is that we need 1-2 more top-tier players to contend. It’s been a long time since we had what we have now. I’m enjoying it and am patient.

  15. If nothing else, Melo takes all or a lot of the heat and attention that might otherwise be directed KPs way on and off the court. That is a good thing. As for the KP is tired crew, what happened to all those lively anti-minutes limitations arguments we had here a month ago? :-)

  16. I don’t know what it will take for you guys to understand Melo is not leaving. I think that was the whole point of the NTC.

    The whole point of the NTC wasn’t necessarily that he would stay here forever, just that he’d have total control over where he goes.

    They recognize that money doesn’t need to be spent…on one player like Greg Monroe, a special talent but whose rim-protection struggles likely would have made for some significant spacing and defensive issues.

    Didn’t we offer him a max contract (or something near it), though?

  17. The whole point of the NTC wasn’t necessarily that he would stay here forever, just that he’d have total control over where he goes

    Well, yes in a literal sense. However he has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to leave and that is kind of like a backstop to give him assurance that he wont be dealt by some new hotshot GM or something in a few years.

    the Knicks have to decide what exactly they plan to do with him for the foreseeable future, and whether they plan to build around his playing style or ignore it.

    Why would you ignore Melo? Hes a good player who has shown the ability to adapt to different teammates and playing styles.

    There are free agents available next year. There are trades to be had. What I know is that we need 1-2 more top-tier players to contend. It’s been a long time since we had what we have now. I’m enjoying it and am patient.

    Agreed.

  18. Looking at it from what I suspect is Melo’s view I find it hard to believe he wants to go anywhere. His workplace has improved, he has better coworkers that are ones he seems to like, he can now play a different sort of game that might prolong his career a bit, his management seems to be delivering on their promise to make the team better around him, his wife is happy in her job, his kids are in school. . .
    There aren’t any guarantees of a championship anywhere, so I can see him wanting to stay at least another year in NY and seeing what happens.

  19. Melo’s retiring a Knick. Doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to think about Melo trades, but yeah, he’s never leaving. He is to the Knicks like Chuck Heston’s rifle was to Chuck Heston.

  20. And, honestly, Knicks players seem to like each other a lot.
    It has been pretty impressive.
    Melo won’t leave that. His more well-rounded play is a clear indication.

  21. I feel like Melo is operating under the assumption that we will go all out to win during his window, i.e. trade future picks, sign max free agents, etc.

    I think when we talks with Phil this summer and realizes we’ve moved to KP’s timeline, he will be happy to leave.

  22. Why is anyone sure Lopez retains “significant” trade value? Yes, he would be better utilized in a more common offense, but there are a lot of guys who can finish on a pick and roll and defend the rim well these days on better deals, many of whom are younger with much greater upside.

    On what teams would Lopez be a clear upgrade at starting center?

    Across the entire league, I see Philly and New Orleans, neither team being in the market for Lopez of course.

    He’s in his prime making the kind of money a quality starter should make, but at a position where I think there’s great supply. The position has changed dramatically over the last 3-4 seasons — there’s nothing like a dearth of talent there was not so long ago.

    Now, are there contenders who would add Lopez to the rotation of bigs? perhaps. But that does not imply great trade value to me.

    Finding a way to unload Lopez (given O’Quinn’s play and the development of KP) and Calderon is far more interesting and realistic than talking about trading Melo, the kind of player who is a much less common commodity.

    If the Knicks are able to do that, the next two years become even more interesting.

  23. Wait, so the Knicks should stay under the cap until KP is in his prime?

    What good franchise does that? You can spend wisely and sign a max.

  24. Hubert, the Knicks can do both. There is no need to go full 76ers mode. Most teams do this. Look at the Spurs. They have old guys while bringing along new ones like Kyle Anderson, Mills, Green and of course Leonard. You don’t have to burn it down to be successful in the future.

  25. Honestly, is put Delladova on the list of pgs. Is Jrue Holiday available and why is his career efficiency so low?

    Parsons seems like a good triangle type player. He also seems like a guy whose brand might sky rocket in NY.

    I think trading Lopez maybe hard because so many teams are set at center or there core guys are to young. Would LA trade for him to give Clarkson/Russell a PnR running mate?

  26. On what teams would Lopez be a clear upgrade at starting center?

    Pacers, Mavs, Lakers, Blazers, Bulls,Hawks (Horford plays PF or joins another team)

    Finding a way to unload Lopez (given O’Quinn’s play and the development of KP) and Calderon is far more interesting and realistic than talking about trading Melo, the kind of player who is a much less common commodity.

    I’d prefer to either keep both of them(Melo/Lopez) or trade both of them. We’re 15th in defense efficiency and would probably crack the top 10 if we replaced Calderon and Afflalo. Last night, it looked like NYK were going to Lopez screens more often and with success so I suspect that trend will continue. Last night, about 4 times Melo drained some open looks off really great Lopez screens. Not only is Melo effective shooting off Lopez screens, he’d be effective in the PnR. No reason NYK couldn’t use a spread PnR featuring Melo/Lopez with Gallo/Afflalo/KP spotting up. The Spurs feature a motion offense but they also use spread PnR. The question is will Jax have enough flexibility to move more in that direction.

    I think when we talks with Phil this summer and realizes we’ve moved to KP’s timeline, he will be happy to leave.

    Summer may be too late. If Melo really wants a shot at a chip, a trade to Heat by trade deadline might be his best chance. Bosh/Melo/Wade/Dragic/Whiteside/Winslow.

  27. Bosh/Melo/Wade/Dragic/Whiteside/Winslow.

    If Winslow’s not coming here, why would we want to trade Melo there?

    Ideally, we trade him away for assets who will be more useful as KP matures, but you don’t just give Melo away. He has real value to the team at present.

  28. If Winslow’s not coming here, why would we want to trade Melo there?

    Tyler Johnson (23yo). But, like I said, I would then trade Lopez also for a young piece (Lopez and KOQ for WCS as an example). We’d be taking a longer view by that strategy and could then use enormous cap space to augment the team in various ways (e.g., rent space, try to sign RFA). Not gonna happen as Phil will likely chart an intermediate course attempting to be competitive while developing younger players.

  29. Sometimes I think that tinkering on the edges gives us the best of both worlds. If they would just pick up a dleague guard I think that I’d be satisfied. At least for a while.

  30. Tyler Johnson and WCS for Melo, O’quinn,and Lopez

    Curry + Green/Thompson/Barnes + Bogut/Igoudala
    Duncan + Parker/Ginobli/Leonard + various free agents
    Porzingis + WCS/?/? + free agent signings.

  31. I am pretty content with how things have gone in the PJ era so far. A few misses and a few hits, but it’s nice to have some semblance of a plan going forward and a team (despite it’s flaws) that is really easy to support.

    To be honest, I would be just as happy if we stood pat at the deadline. If we get offers for say Calderon, sure take a look, but otherwise I feel that guys like Calderon and Sasha are good pro’s to have around the younger guys. I am not so hot on trading Melo, mostly because it is unlikely to happen, and considering the mentoring role he has played for KP and Grant that is massively valuable. My concern with dumping vets just to go full blown rebuild is that we end up in Philly’s situation whereby we have a 1-28 record and Mike D’Antoni is brought in to salvage the season. Surely people don’t still want that after what we have seen this season?

  32. Curry + Green/Thompson/Barnes + Bogut/Igoudala
    Duncan + Parker/Ginobli/Leonard + various free agents
    Porzingis + WCS/?/? + free agent signings.

    You realize you just compared Porzingis to Duncan and Curry right?

  33. When the spoiler season has run remind me i got some takes on that new star wars. And these takes is hot

  34. well he’s a Knick so he’s gotta be a guaranteed hall-of-famer I mean have you watched the games

  35. You realize you just compared Porzingis to Duncan and Curry right?

    If you aspire to win a championship, you have to make certain assumptions. One of those is KP will be a franchise player and you do realize many people have described him as having that capability? But having a franchise player is not enough as New Orleans is finding out. You have to invest smartly in young players who will form a solid core and then use free agency to acquire the final pieces. Nowadays almost all of the players to be had in free agency are expensive 29+yo so that’s not a very reliable path as the primary method of building a championship team unless you execute a Pat Riley coup.

  36. You realize you just compared Porzingis to Duncan and Curry right?

    That’s the hope, isn’t it? If KP can’t develop into an MVP caliber player then we’re basically screwed.

  37. Pacers, Mavs, Lakers, Blazers, Bulls,Hawks (Horford plays PF or joins another team)

    Pachulia is a very effective center (for reference, his WS/48 is more than double RoLo’s), and might be the best player on the Mavs right now. He’s kept his minutes despite talented bigs behind him.

    Mahinmi has also been significantly better than RoLo — from finishing to rim protecting and rebounding.

    Horford isn’t a center all of a sudden? Nor is Gasol or his back-up, Noah?

    I don’t get it.

    The only guy you can make an argument for is Plumlee, and I don’t think there’s much separating them (statistically, Plumlee has been better) and of course one of them CAN get better.

  38. Too bad the Knicks don’t have the assets for Noah.

    Hard to think of a better triangle fit,. The Bulls clearly want to build around Mirotic and Portis and you get the sense they’re not very optimistic about contending.

  39. DRed, I’m a Star Wars nerd who just saw the new movie and probably will see it again this week. I’m down for some Force Awakens hot takes. Better than talking about never gonna happen Melo trades.

  40. Pachulia is a very effective center (for reference, his WS/48 is more than double RoLo’s), and might be the best player on the Mavs right now. He’s kept his minutes despite talented bigs behind him.

    Zaza is 31yo and his career WS/48 is .35 below Lopez’s. It’s his contract year.

    Mahinmi has also been significantly better than RoLo — from finishing to rim protecting and rebounding.

    He’s 29yo and his career WS/48 is also lower than Lopez’s.

    Nor is Gasol or his back-up, Noah?

    Pau is opting out and will be 36yo and an unreliable Noah will be 31yo and a free agent. My fear is that Phil will give one of these guys a 4-year deal and Afflalo a 4-year deal as well. This is what happens when you build a team around a very specialized offense.

    Horford isn’t a center all of a sudden?

    Atlanta has been looking to play Horford at PF and Millsap at SF if they could acquire the right center. It’s been written that Horford himself wants this change.

    You are a surprising person to be arguing against Lopez because Melo will likely only be effective in the future if he’s got a really good screener and Lopez is better than all of the above at that. It’s unclear how KP will evolve in that regard.

  41. When the spoiler season has run remind me i got some takes on that new star wars. And these takes is hot

    We can get a thread going for everyone who has seen it. Seeing it early on in the piece has meant I have had a drip feed of friend & family I can talk to about it ha ha.

    I am all for the Star Wars related KB post that was hinted at earlier this week.

  42. Melo doesn’t need a great screener to be effective, though it certainly helps in some regards. What’s the trade-off though? Moving Melo back to the 4 — the spacing it could provide — by trading Rolo for guard penetration — all of those things will help the offense far more than his screening.

    I like RoLo. Maybe he becomes more effective with a real point guard.

  43. I have not seen Star Wars yet, so please shut the hell up. Thank you, and merry holidays.

  44. Oct- 72 minutes 59.4 TS%

    Nov- 369 minutes 45.5 TS%

    Dec- 244 minutes 61.4 TS%

    Maybe dude just had an Annakin-talking-to-Padme-about-sand level catastrophe of a month.

  45. Melo doesn’t need a great screener to be effective, though it certainly helps in some regards. What’s the trade-off though? Moving Melo back to the 4 — the spacing it could provide — by trading Rolo for guard penetration — all of those things will help the offense far more than his screening.

    It’s complicated. We don’t know if our net rating would be better with KP at the 5. We don’t know when KP would be durable enough to take on that responsibility. We don’t know how flexible Phil would be in his implementation of the Triangle to maximize spacing. Remember in 2012-13 our offense often was triggered by Felton/Tyson PnR in spread offense. Screen-setting imo is a very underrated skill and often is not reflected in a player’s stats. Both Tyson and Robin are not the most skilled guys in the world but their reliable screens trigger an imbalance which forces defenses to react and allows their more skilled teammates to do their thing. Before trading Lopez, I would like to watch an offense which really utilizes this skill. I have no idea at what level the Triangle could incorporate this before it’s no longer the Triangle.

    I like RoLo. Maybe he becomes more effective with a real point guard.

    Yes this is a facet of the problem. That’s why I’d start Grant and Galloway and tell Jerian he’s gotta take those open shots and not worry if he misses. The hope is that he’d eventually hit his stride and we’d have a better idea of our offensive capability. Fish playing Grant at the end of the Orlando game was bizarre because that’s not the way to build a rook’s confidence. Grant came off a Lopez pick and had an open mid-range shot which he missed as he “aimed” the ball. Give him quality minutes in less pressurized parts of the game and let Galloway/Afflalo close out games.

  46. I am inclined to just read the comments and not to write a comment but I suddenly read about Joe Johnson as a FA possibility.
    By this age is he slow? I am just thinking that we can sign Joe Johnson for a vet min to 1year 5m deal and he will play PG for us next year.\
    JJ as PG without the burden of scoring could be a nice fit for our team. Triangle loves big guards and I think JJ will be fit for NY

  47. I’m going to put my foot down about Anthony. The Knicks need him. He’s playing as good as he ever has. He is not washed up and he’s a top-20 talent. Without him, the Knicks are battling with the 76’ers for last place.

    -this is it. i wonder why most fans on this blog doesnt think this way.

  48. Without him, the Knicks are battling with the 76’ers for last place

    This is NOT the 76ers + Melo.

    Believe it or not we have 10 players above .100 in WS48.

    If you rather use WP, we have 8.

    The 76ers are a D-League team right now.

  49. Nice piece Jonathan Topaz!

    I think Phil came around with a vision of bringing the team back to what it was with Willis, Clyde, Dollar Bill, etc. That team hunted good shots. Bradley was legendary in college for passing up open shots to find teammates with better shots, even though he had a better chance to make his. Phil wants to bring back the beauty of five man basketball. It looks like it’s happening on the court. I think he likes his players and is in no rush to upset the balance.

    We know sports leagues are copy cat leagues. Phil has gotten value as a contrarian. Right now people have seen the small ball revolution. What does Phil do? Puts the twin towers out there, plays post basketball and the team has won half of it’s games. He’s found incredible value in Lance Thomas. How many people around here wouldn’t have been happier with any rookie FA? Everyone wants D-Leaguers, Phil plucks a gem off someone else’s bench. Lot’s of other pleasant surprises on the Knicks roster.

    KP6 was pure serendipity. That has to happen. Clearly Phil would have gotten Monroe also if he could have. He has had to be flexible and change the plan. Still he’s been very methodical and has stuck to his principles of getting high character guys who are hard workers and who are willing to play a passing game.

    I know we have the biweekly Melo thread around here but no one has mentioned how well he’s moving the ball out there. He’s not a dead asset. He can play. Overall I’d like to see us overachieve with this roster and become a place someone elite wants to come.

  50. I’m going to put my foot down about Anthony. The Knicks need him. He’s playing as good as he ever has.

    lol what

  51. Um- guys…

    Lance Thomas is currently sporting these #s – FG% 49.7%, 3P% 44.6% , and 88.5% FT on 3.4 3PA/36. The list of guys who have accomplished this over a season in NBA history:

    http://bkref.com/tiny/2EYJ0

    For those too lazy to click:
    Nash
    Kerr
    Hornacek
    Curry
    Lance Thomas

    he is in spitting distance of a 50/40/90 year, which has only been accomplished by 8 players in NBA history (Bird, Calderon, Durant, Kerr, Miller, Nash, Dirk, Mark Price).

    Just nuts.

    If he keeps this up, he will get paid BIG $ this summer. And he’ll deserve it.
    He’s up around 600 minutes now which is still a pretty small sample. We’ll see.

    Gotta give props to the player development coaches – Galloway, Thomas, and KP are all much further along in their development than expected, and at least some of that credit should go to the coaching staff. Hopefully they can do the same with Grant, and at least a couple of the players up in Westchester.

  52. This is NOT the 76ers + Melo.

    Believe it or not we have 10 players above .100 in WS48.

    If you rather use WP, we have 8.

    The 76ers are a D-League team right now.

    The Sixers could add Saric, Embiid and, say, Ben Simmons this year (since the Knicks don’t have a pick, I am not paying much attention, so I don’t even know who are the #2-3 prospects right now, so feel free to plug their names in there instead of Simmons as obviously their odds of getting Simmons won’t exceed 25%) and suddenly their plan would look a whole lot different. But yes, a more important point is that the main criticism of the Sixers’ process is that it has yet to land them a building block piece (you know, “They lost all of those games and they have nothing to show for it!”), while clearly the Knicks have that already in Porzingis – so no matter what, they would not be the Sixers. It just isn’t an apt comparison. Tanking is criticized because not every team does tank and end up with a building block piece (like when you’re picking #1 when Michael Olowakandi is the #1 pick) – the Knicks, however, did.

  53. @ 67 that list is impressive. It needs the caveat that the NBA 3 pointer is since 1979-1980. Additionally the league leader in attempts did not shoot > 3.4/g until the late 80s. So we are talking since the early 90s when more than a handful of players in the whole league shot that many 3s and some barely did at all (like Centers and so on). Anyway I like what he has done and hope it is the result of work on his game, as reported, and not just a random hot streak.

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